Getting Wrapped Up In Sarongs
‘When you think of sarongs, you think
of Hawaii,’ says Anthony Edward of
From Watts to Waikiki, Anthony Edward, who grew up in California, isn’t afraid to wrap his mind around new things - and that’s especially true of his wholesale sarong business, Casual Movements.
“Sarongs are used in all cultures, but when you think of sarongs, you think of Hawaii,” says Edward about the main focus of his Kaimuki showroom. “It’s called by many names. Indians call it a sari, Samoans call it a lavalava. A woman can have 101 looks with a sarong, and have the same thing on.”
Besides supplying sarongs to more than 50 vendors, he offers accessories such as beach mats, sandals, slippers, dolphins, turtles, buddhas, yoga sarongs.
Among his newest inventory items are small purses made of hemp with island designs on them such as the hibiscus or bird of paradise.
“The younger generation appreciates it more,” notes Edward. “It grows so fast so you’re not destroying a lot of trees. It’s more durable than cotton.”
Sarongs are 80 percent of his business, and he’s got all kinds of sarongs: solid, animal print, Celtic, African, Caribbean, Hawaiian, Polynesian, floral print, and hand-painted. The sarongs are found in resort shops and boutiques, including Makaha Market Place and Waimanalo Country Market. Edward’s wife, Debra, a yoga instructor, helps out in the shop as do their children, Ray and Kim.
“I’ll continue to fish for small customers, and continue with sarongs,” says Edward.
Inspired in part by his father, who was a self-employed barber, Edward’s entrepreneurial background includes selling shoes, encyclopedias and clothes. He owned a bookstore in Scandinavia, sold fast food in Greece, and sold metaphysics books in Europe. He served in the military in Vietnam and Germany - he’s traveled to 35 countries. Edward moved to Hawaii in 1981, and sold cotton clothing at the swap meet and trade shows in the mid-1980s. He shifted into selling sarongs in the early 1990s, running two retail shops in Waikiki and Kapahulu.
Edward says he became an entrepreneur because of his motivation to beat the odds of being one of the “50 percent of African-Americans who go to jail or who go to the military, or the 20 percent who go to school.”
The Kaimuki resident compares himself to the three African-American men who grew up in the inner city of New Jersey and became doctors, who authored the book, We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success. The doctors go into the community and give hope for a bright future to other inner-city children.
Edward recalls that in school he was often scolded for having his head in the clouds, daydreaming. “I had to manifest my dreams, and take action,” he says “If I can make an empire, I strive for that. I’ve got to improve and make it better for myself and improve for my family.”
Edward’s grandmother was a domestic in Beverly Hills.
“She’d be proud of me I made it happen,” he adds. “I have so much appreciation for what she did. This makes me strong and independent.”
Edwards does his best to keep a positive, pro-active look on life, while being brave enough to try new things.
“There’s no losses,” explains Edward. “There’s wins and learns.”
For more information, log onto www.casualmovements.com, or call 732-0655.
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